Anyone drawing back curtains in Germany this morning might not have recognised the place. After a week of grey skies and damp cold wind a spirit-lifting blanket of snow covers the ground today. Buildings are white, roads are slushed over, locals look like they’re wearing as much clothing as possible.
Some are parents taking their kids to sports fields to proudly stand watching them in the freezing cold. A mile away from the Hilton hotel where most players have been staying, is the Signal Iduna Park stadium, a staggering spiky construction built in 1974 and home to Borussia Dortmund which fills every week with 80,000 football fans, some of who will make the short journey to Duisburg where Dortmund play this afternoon.
Today the Six Nations, one of the biggest rugby tournaments in the world starts in London and Dublin. And tomorrow a billion or so people around the world will tune in to watch the Super Bowl on TV. Even more – this morning CNN reported from a golf course made of snow.
No work, no school. Weekends are purely designed for sport.
Not that this concerns us.
For eight people in Dortmund today all this is merely a side show, something that ordinary people will use to fill the gap between now and work first thing Monday. Running around after a ball might not seem trivial to a lot of people but here it matters little alongside €933,600.
That’s what’s at stake today at the final table of the EPT Dortmund.
It’s easy to forget that on Tuesday the list of starters for this event was 411, each paying €8,000 to make a combined prize pool of over €3.16million. It made the Casino Hohensyburg come to life, not with the song of the slot machines, but instead with the sound of 26 different languages each trying to converse with the other 25.
At the head of the chip list is a certain Mike McDonald. At just 18 he is the well known internet player known as ‘Timex’ – a handle he picked when registering online by simply looking at his watch. His form in the real world is also edging towards marvellous – four cashes in five weeks since the EPT Dortmund and now a fifth cash here – set to be the biggest of his career.
He has his work to do though ahead of second place Johannes Strassmann. Whilst McDonald looks like a baby-faced young man complete with braces, 22 year-old Strassmann looks every inch a poker player fitting the profile of a young man not happy unless winning. He could well manage that, and the battle between him and the Canadian will be the focal point of this final.
Not that there aren’t other obstacles. Chip leader on day 3 Diego Perez cannot be discounted, sitting as he is in third position on 744k. And Christian Harder from Maryland in the United States is in equally good form, coming to Dortmund just a week after a seventh place finish at the PokerStars EPT PCA. He has 339k and talked about his chances on EPT Live…
Soccer, football, rugby, it all has its place. But at Casino Hohensyburg today there’s only one main event.
And don’t forget you can watch the final table from start to finish, as well as reading details here, on EPT Live starting at 3pm.
How the final table lines up –
Mike McDonald – Canada — 862k
Diego Perez – Spain — 744k
Thibaut Durand – France – 148k
Johannes Strassmann – Germany – PokerStars sponsored player — 827k
Christian Harder – United States – PokerStars qualifier — 339k
Andreas Gulunay – Germany — 560k
Torsten Haase – Germany – 369k
Claudio Rinaldi – Switzerland – 276k